Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sociology Roll Call

Today was the last day of Willer's experiments, thus my time as an undergraduate research assistant is at an end. However, I thought I'd take a moment to give a shout-out to the folks who have been involved (especially since one of them has been reading my blog archives and gave me crap because none of the following were mentioned in any previous post)...

Dr. David Willer. Sociology Professor, or Evil Genius? The Answer? BOTH.

Pam Emanuels, Willer's Right-hand wo-man. Too smart for her own good.

Mike Steketee AKA Stekdog. Contrary to what I said earlier this week, there are actually many interesting things about Mike.

Matt Cazessus. Claims to be Sociology grad student, but this is actually a clever ruse. He is actually in ninja-school.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Second Week at the Somali Home

As the title so suggests, this was my second week to go with Katie to help a few of the Somali families. My job really is "distract the kids so Katie (and now Nicole) can help the adults." With some occassional tutoring. Which is fine. Love it. I must admit that tonight the kids and I were slightly more distracting than we should have been, but we were having so much fun!

But here are two funny but slightly traumatic events of the evening that made the "germ-o-phobe" part of me cringe:

1. Ikra showed me how she could lick the bottom of her feet. When I asked Meghaney to PLEASE get one of the mom's lend some authority and tell Ikra to stop doing that, little Elmie and Mohamud decided to show me that they could do it, too. And they can.

2. Elmie (in kindergarten) pulls an old dried piece of chewed gum off of a bulletin board and proceeds to happily chew it in front of me. When I begged him to PLEASE not do that and get rid of it, he promptly obliged- by handing it to Mohamud, who then ALSO proceeds to chew it. Blech.

Katie says that compared to their old life, old chewed gum is really no big deal. True. Speaking of which, we played a game where the three boys (including me) sat on the floor while the two girls played something which seemed to be an African variant of " mother says to pick the best one and you are not IT!" Interesting enough, but another aspect of the game was to pretend to get food and immediately hide it so no one else knows you have it. I can't help but think this is a direct result of spending almost their whole lives in a refugee camp under harsh conditions. Sharing may not have been much of an option (though these families certainly do stick together). All cultural meaning aside, kids will still be kids, and when it came time to "examine the food," Meghaney informed me that I didn't actually have any food, but rather a big handfull of "doo-doo." Laughter ensued.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Garden State (2004)

Here's a little review I wrote about the film Garden State:

Jumamosi ya mwisho mke wangu na mimi tuliangalia sinema Garden State. Rafiki yetu Paula aliiazima sisi, kwa hivyo tuliangalia penye nyumbani. Sinema hii ilikuwa juu ya mtu ambaye anarudia nyumbani ya wazazi kwa maziko ya mama yake na kwa sababu hiyo anopima maisha yake. Mke wangu na mimi tulifurahia sinema hii. Uigizaji ulikuwa mzuri sana na hadithi iliandika nzuri.

(In short: It was good and Miss Portman was cute cute cute.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Letter to Editor Published

I'd figured I hadn't made the cut, but yesterday (3/25/06) The State Newspaper published my letter regarding the intrinsic vs. bottom-line value of the AmeriCorps*NCCC. Obviously, I was for keeping the program. So, dear readers, I stand by my request that everyone who feels compelled to support the program please contact their Congressional representatives and urge that funding be restored. As of right now, if it is not, the program will be terminated within a year.

Click HERE to read Saturdays letters, including mine.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pardon My Absence...

Tonight my wife told me, if not in these exact words in others very similar, that I was a "sorry-ass blogger" these days. Alas, 'tis true. Life has been very busy this last week or so, but with nothing very noteworthy. Allow me to demonstrate:

So I went to the dentist last Tuesday and my teeth were fine. However, I should have my last wisdom tooth removed soon. We've been running experiments, but we've been having lots of no-shows lately, so I'm having to recruit people of the street. I studied a lot for a test this-

Shall I go on? No, I'll spare you...

Nonetheless these things and many others like it have kept me fairly busy. There are a few somewhat-interesting things of note:

1. I've applied for my very first passport this week. Since our overseas plans are now on the backburner, we're hoping for three weeks in Africa in June (OK, THAT is REALLY exciting, but there's nothing more to say. Many plans must follow...)
2. V for Vendetta is a really fun movie.
3. Most fun lately- this evening, actually- is that I have now begun to join Katie in going to the Bantu women's apartments to help tutor. I worked with the kids and it was...marvelous. I was in Heaven. Seriously. Whatever it is inside me that jumps for joy about African topics or African people was doing cartwheels tonight. For me, it was just affirmation that, for whatever greater reason or purpose, our futures are tied to the African people. And that is an exhilarating realization.

I'll post more soon. Really.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dark Crystal Sequel In the Works for 2007!!!

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
HOLY CRAP!! It really isn’t just a rumor!!

The Jim Henson Company will produce a feature film sequel to The Dark Crystal, the 1982 fantasy classic directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz with conceptual designer Brian Froud...
A Brief Synopsis of the Film... When Jen and Kira welcome a fiery and unexpected visitor to their castle they learn that the very existence of the U-mun people, who live in the searing heat of the centre of the earth, is threatened by the death of their sun. There is apparently only one thing powerful enough to heal the ailing star - a shard of the Crystal.

The Gelflings flatly refuse the request for a fragment and the desperate visitor takes matters into her own hands and steals one, making a hasty escape through tunnels deep in the bowels of the castle. So begins an adventure that will see love and goodness triumph over evil and re-introduce cinema-goers to a host of indelible characters including the mystic Ur-sol, Aughra the one-eyed seer, the evil Skeksis and their crab-like and violent Garthim foot soldiers.

Click HERE for the whole article.

I am excited by this project, as the The Dark Crystal is a personal favorite of mine. It is a great little film and though most of my friends seem to disagree with me, I think The Dark Crystal is far superior to Labyrinth. Not only do I have very fond childhood memories of this movie, but a few years ago while I worked at the Madison County Cultural Center’s Summer Arts Camp, the kids alternated between The Dark Crystal and Nightmare Before Christmas, so I watched this movie about two or three times a week for most of a month (seriously) and I loved it every time. All I have to say is they better do it right. And it looks like they will, since they have a many of the original cast and crew onboard.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Four Things

Fuzzy “tagged” me to do this survey, and though I do not generally do these things, I’m up for the challenge (and this one’s pretty short):

Four jobs I’ve had
Sales Clerk in a Music Store (Blockbuster Music and BeBop Record Shop)
Programs Coordinator at the Madison County Cultural Center in MS
Community Specialist at Communities In Schools of the Midlands
Undergrad Research Assistant to Dr. David Willer, USC Sociology Dept.

Four movies I can watch over and over
Nightmare Before Christmas
Office Space
Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Four TV shows I love to watch (on DVD, since I don’t get any TV channels)
Chappelle Show
Fraggle Rock
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Beavis and Butthead

Four places I’ve been on vacation
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Hunting Island, SC
Chicago, IL
Los Angeles, CA

Four favorite dishes (No Meat, Please.)
Katie’s Caper Pasta
Tofu / Peanut Sauce thing I get at Thai Lotus every time we go..mmmm…
Falafel plate, tabouli, and Damascus Bread from Al Amir
Broccoli cornbread, okra, and black-eyed peas

Four websites I visit daily
BBC World News

Four places I’d rather be (though I like where I am)
(OH! Does "not in student housing" count?!)

Four bloggers I’m "tagging"
Mr. Williams
Cap’n Hardqore
Pritcher Littlebarn

Ali Farka Toure

Ali Farka Toure was a Malian guitarist reknowned for playing the "Mali Blues", a style of Sahelian music which incorporated traditional instruments, but sounded like blues music. (Actually, he was one of the creators of the sound). I was just talking about Toure to Sean and Cheryl this weekend. I recommend everyone (especially Ian!) check out some of his music- it contains a wealth of good stuff. Especially "Talking Timbuktu" with Ry Cooder. Excellent.

From CNN:
African music giant Toure dies

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) -- The renowned African musician Ali Farka Toure has died after a long illness, Mali's Culture Ministry said. He was in his late 60s. Mali's Culture Ministry said Toure died Tuesday at his home in the capital, Bamako, after a long struggle with an unidentified illness, the ministry.

Toure, one of Africa's most famous performers, played a traditional Malian stringed instrument called the gurke.

He was best-known overseas for his 1995 collaboration with American guitarist Ry Cooder on "Talking Timbuktu," which netted him his first of two Grammys. He won another Grammy this year in the traditional world music album category for his "In the Heart of the Moon" album, performed with fellow Malian Toumani Diabate.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Here's another link with a brief bio as well (though the year of his birth is list ten years later than what's listed in the CNN article).

And for an extensive bio, click here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

OK, OK, I hear you...

I have received a few good-natured complaints about my lack of blogging lately, which has resulted in my leaving my depressing "Dad's cancer/no Africa/Life sucks" post up for almost two weeks. Sorry. If I had posted anything sooner, it may have been even more depressing, so count your blessings.

Anyway, I am feeling better now that it's Spring Break. So here's a few things for folks to read:

1. I won the Outstanding Senior Major in Sociology Award 2006 (as previously reported on Waldie's World) I won't officially be awarded at the end of April, but the Professor in charge of the process told me I have won.

2. The 40-Year Old Virgin is pretty darn funny.

3. This is the world's ugliest dog, Sam. Many may have seen it before, but I had not, and I almost crapped myself in laughter and horror.

4. We did indeed have a lot of fun with Sean and Cheryl this Saturday in Greenwood.

5.And from the Sociology Department of USC, some interesting research about Southerners, from Dr. Brent Simpson (who's totally rad, btw):
Southerners are much less trusting of others, particularly strangers, than non-Southerners, according to research by a University of South Carolina sociologist.

Dr. Brent Simpson says his findings are relevant because other research has shown that lower levels of trust are associated with a variety of personal and social problems: less political participation, less economic development, unhappiness and shorter life expectancy. Previous studies have shown that many of these social ills have, at one time or another, plagued the South.

"Contrary to popular belief, Southerners do not rely on the kindness of strangers," says Simpson, whose research will appear in one of sociology's top journals, "Social Forces," in March.

Click here to read the whole article.